Thursday, July 9, 2009


Let me preface this entry by saying it's a LONG one, and maybe boring. But I enjoyed writing it because I got to share the setting of my childhood :) Also, pictures of flowers at my old house were taken with a very crappy Logitech webcam (yes, I detached it and carried it outside) many years ago when I still lived there. Old family pictures are pictures of pictures (did you catch that?) because I'm too lazy to scan.

Before my family and I moved into our copy-and-paste house in modern Suburbia, we lived in a very quaint neighborhood. Every house was a different color, shape and story. You could see the age on the roofs and paneling, woody vines creeping up sides of houses. Most importantly, each house had a real YARD, something we absolutely don't have in our new 'hood. Our front yard was full of old trees that had seen generations come and go. An untamed bush of forsythia blossomed yellow stars next to our mailbox, wild chives were as common as grass, and azaleas grew in every shade of red. Creeping myrtle grew in patches everywhere, leading me to think it was a beautiful but rampant weed (it's not). If our plot were in a popularity contest judged by ladybugs and bumblebees, it would've won.
Forsythia in the background.

Haha I'm the dork on the bottom left.

Azaleas by the front porch.

We also had a large vegetable garden. It spanned the full width of our backyard, hidden by our old pool and rickety playground that I loved so much.
Playground with cousins after church :)

My grandfather tended to the garden non-stop, nursing red-leaf lettuce, peppers, cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini and cucumbers to greatness like the expert gardener he is. Now that I think about it, he even built a mini greenhouse next to the lettuce row.
The vegetable garden was just behind the wooden railing (our pool) and flowers seen in this picture. We also had pink and blue hydrangeas (my other favorite flower) to the left of these azaleas.

A ginormous heirloom from the backyard.

Grandpa planted a multi-grafted tree that would've produced peaches, plums and more on the very same tree, but the climate was never right to ripen any budlings. In the summer, wild blackberries would grow on thorny bushes that engulfed our wire fencing (it wasn't smart to place our trampoline next to them, yet we never moved it). I remember plucking the berries that were so heavy with juice they drooped from the vine, feeling them burst between my teeth, and reaching for more even though I was (and am) deathly afraid of thorns. In retrospect, I guess it wasn't very smart to pick wild things and put them in my mouth, but curiosity killed the cat. I loved taking the risk and trying things that looked tasty.

I recall trying to chew seeds that grew in velvety pods over my backporch's terraced roof (see: trying things that looked tasty). I just Wiki'd the thing, and turns out the pods are toxic. Awesome.
Virginia's ugly state flower (dogwood) in the background, as well as the back porch. Oh, and an angry looking me, but I was just squinting b/c of the sun.

Anyhow, the deathpods belonged to my favorite flowering vines (wisteria), which decades ago had climbed a support beam of our porch and taken over the terraced roof. Every spring, the hardy wisteria vines produced beautiful clusters of purple flowers that gave off an intoxicating fragrance reminiscent of ripe Concord grapes, but more floral and complex.

These web cam pics don't do any justice, trust. But I'm surprised I saved any photos at all..
I can still feel the warmth of the sun and smell the flowers this very moment. Soft, purple clusters would crowd the roof, bowing downwards to tease your nose with their delicious scent. There is nothing like it in this world, and wisteria remains one of my favorite flowers-- er, vines-- ever.

A shaky 360 of the backyard by that old webcam. I'm glad I salvaged this from an old HD that crashed years ago. The sun peeking through vines, birds chirping, the low hum from the pool filter: sights and sounds of my youth.

I can't believe I left our yards virtually untouched during my teenage years... Stayed indoors all the time, busy with the computer and television. I regret it now!

All's to say, moving into my current home 4 or 5 years ago was a drastic change. It is a nice, modern house and we have wonderful neighbors, but I miss my old home and yard. Stuff here seems so... sterile in comparison. So many memories of playing in the old yard with cousins, siblings and neighbors. Picnics with mom. Driving the Barbie Jeep around the cul-de-sac. Building igloos during the blizzards we never see these days. I've since driven to my old house several times since my sister's still friends with kids in the neighborhood, but it's all too creepy to walk around my former home, right? Darn.

Though we are without space for a garden, we've made do with our tiny backporch. Zucchini, cucumbers, red peppers and jalapeños are grown in little pots. I believe my Grandpa planted the stuff you see in these photos too. We eat the fruits of our labor daily, especially in Korean soups or simple salads. It's so nice to be able to walk outside, pick some veggies (well.. most aren't true VEGGIES, but you know what I mean), and make a dish with them.
The one in the front is still growing, and we'll never be able to reach the ripe one in the back -_- dangit

Ate this zucchini in Grandma's dwenjang jjigae (된장 찌개) during tonight's dinner.

Gma also stuck some jalapeños in the jjigae for spice.

I've added my little pots of basil and mint to the family, as you can see!

It just goes to show that you can grow some greens no matter how small your space is! I hope to start my own (even tinier) balcony garden when I move into my apartment back at the Univ in August.
Made a light cucumber-basil salad this evening, both elements picked straight from our "garden" right before they hit the dish. Cucumber salads are very popular in Asian cuisine, so the dressing included sesame oil and crushed red pepper flakes (Korean style). We usually use brown rice vinegar as the acid element, but I used balsamic vinegar instead, as it is commonly paired with basil, and it is nice with cucumbers as well. A drizzle of honey, some salt and pepper, and carrots for some vitamin A. You really don't need measurements, just adjust things to your liking as you would a regular vinaigrette.

So, readers, have you had your own gardens of any kind before? What did you grow?



  1. The Desperate Housewives live in WISTERIA Lane.
    Just FYI...

  2. Dood. your sunday outfits are TOO CUTE.

    My mom always let me wear what I chose, so I ended up going to church in overalls and jumpers quite often.

  3. yewnis- i know!!!! and that kinda ruins it for me. HAAHAH sorry :p

    katrina- if only i'd had the freedom to choose my own sunday clothes. my hose always gave me wedgies, and the dresses were itchy~

    loosey- HEHEHE :D mees you

  4. hehe we had like a 5x5 ggochu garden last year...i ate like 50% of them ahaha but now its deaddd :T